Middle East airline's are forecast to see net profits double next year after a significant slump in 2017, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
According to the forecast by the industry's global trade association, combined net profits will hit $38.4 billion, from a revised $34.5 billion in 2017, with USA carriers weighing in with nearly half.
Demand, according to IATA has been boosted by very strong growth on the trade lane to and from Asia, which increased by more than 67 per cent in the first nine months of the year.
IATA said the global air passenger performance in October was helped by a lack of weather-related impacts.
"Safety performance is solid".
IATA Director General and CEO Alexandre de Juniac said it is good times for the global air transport industry and airlines are achieving sustainable levels of profitability. "It's still, however, a tough business and we are being challenged on the cost front by rising fuel, labour and infrastructure expenses", he told a media briefing here today.
De Juniac added that it was vital for governments to support the growing airline industry as it faces longer term challenges.
IATA said there "continues to be indications" that inbound U.S. travel is being deterred by the additional security measures now involved when travelling to the country. Overall revenues are seen rising 9.4% y-o-y to US$824 billion in 2018.
Airlines in all regions recorded growth.
Worldwide tourists travelling by air are expected to spend more than $750 billion in 2018, a rise of 15% in just over 2 years. Chief marketing officer Kenny Jacobs said the increase in passenger numbers in November was due to lower fares. Passenger traffic (revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs) is expected to rise 6.0 per cent (slightly down on the 7.5 per cent growth of 2017 but still ahead of the average of the past 10-20 years of 5.5 per cent), which will exceed a capacity expansion (available seat kilometers or ASKs) of 5.7 per cent. "And the industry is ready to partner with governments to reinforce the foundations for global connectivity that are vital to modern life", said Mr de Juniac. Demand to and from North America fell in year-on-year terms for the seventh consecutive month in September and it remains the only global market not to have grown in annual terms this year.
In its statement, IATA said the USA figure, up from a forecast $15.6 billion in 2017, actually represents a slight fall away in market share. Cargo revenues will continue to do well in 2018, reaching $59.2bn, up 8.6 per cent from expected 2017 revenues of $54.5bn.